I put this originally with compost tea but that is not quite right. I wanted to share what I just learned about this enzyme and how to make it.
I met this guy who somehow found a way to enhance the presence of this enzyme in worm castings back in the 70's and when applied onto plant's roots, he puts it around the base of the plants, the bugs would flee. Aphids would leave by the next day. The pine beetle would back out of the trees. But it does not seem to bother the pollinators. The chitinase is used by fungi and worms to break down the exoskeleton of bugs, the plants take it up and then taste icky to the bugs-- for lack of a better way to put it.
So here is his recipe, kind of simple.
You use worm bins to grow worms and their castings in the normal way, but you make sure you have flies buzzing around it, so maybe not an indoor kind of thing.
Start by growing your worms with lots of leafy vegetables to ensure there will be dead insects in it and have dry material that is mushroom friendly, dry grass, organic straw, decomposed wood. The dry material should naturally have mushroom spores as they are ubiquitous. The spores have a chitin layer and the mushrooms dissolve their coating with the enzyme which is eaten by the worms which enhance it or create more through their eating the dead insect parts. And then it is passed through to the castings. I was warned to not add more bugs as it can crash the system. The flies and their pupa cover should be enough.
There are some labs that can test the worm casting tea or castings for the presence of chitinase enzyme. But I think if you put it on a plant with bugs and the bugs either stay or go you will know if you fed your worms right. I mean you can always change their diet.
His garden is in a rather barren area where there are lots of insects. His plants grow strong and taste really great and don't have bugs, but the neighboring areas do. We are talking the shade of green changes there are so many bugs around.
I think I will use this just on plants of mine that are rare and I won't have an easy time replacing them. I know there is something to be said that maybe the aphids are getting rid of a plant that does not belong there, however, if all of my ash trees were being attacked by that ash boring beetle, I think I would give my trees a boost of this every year.
I hope this helps anyone interested in organic alternatives. I just had to share this with someone. It sure seems a thousand times better than spraying toxic gick all over the plants.
Great post Jason. We are growing worms and use Chitinase too, wonderful stuff, even works on squash bugs, one of the scourage bugs here in Arkansas.
The squash beetle is why we got into open air worm bins in the first place, didn't have enough for last year but so far this year, we have not had any of them around.
It may be that we aren't quite hot enough yet (only in the 80's for highs so far) but time will tell. I plan to keep on spreading the casings from the worm bins until the garden beds and the orchard trees have all gotten a good dose.
I'll most likely keep doing this every spring and fall now that it seems to be working on the only "bad" bug we have real trouble with.
We have many soldier beetles, walking sticks, praying mantis and lady bugs.
They seem to really like our land and plants, I'm sure there are plenty of prey for all too, since every year we have more of our friends here.
Jason, this is a powerful topic - a worm hole that is worth going deep into! I will not let a dead fly go under utilized. They will go into the worm bed! And I will be setting out fly traps to catch as many as possible. Mosquitoes too! We will be testing the extract on grasshoppers and are looking at them for lice and other insects on cows as well as ticks. This is very exciting information!
Location: Czech Republic; East Bohemia; Latitude 50˚ 12' 34"
John Brown wrote:Jason, this is a powerful topic - a worm hole that is worth going deep into! I will not let a dead fly go under utilized. They will go into the worm bed! And I will be setting out fly traps to catch as many as possible. Mosquitoes too! We will be testing the extract on grasshoppers and are looking at them for lice and other insects on cows as well as ticks. This is very exciting information!
Let me know how it goes. I was warned not to add too many insects as it crashed his system. Maybe you can find a better recipe!
There is always the heavy hitters like crab, shrimp, lobster, and crayfish shells. I dry them out then run them through an old coffee grinder to use as a soil ammendment (the worm bin gets an occasional dusting) or make a tea with the meal, strain, then spray if I am getting hit hard by an insect.
It's a pleasure to see superheros taking such an interest in science. And this tiny ad:
The Garden Master Course - Full Video - Kickstarter